Schooling shows are for bringing along green horses or newbie riders. As such, the judges are usually more generous with their scores and much kinder in their comments than they would be at a rated show. Take the judge's comment for our final halt at the end of the test, "wiggly." Now if that isn't a euphemism for didn't halt, I don't know what is. Score? 5.5 - very generous. I don't mind generous scores, but I recognize them for what they are: a way to encourage new or struggling riders to persevere and keep on keeping on.
I say all of this because to see my score sheet and final score (59.58%), you'd think we actually put in a somewhat decent ride. I used to get those kind of scores on Speedy all the time, and he was at least well behaved. He might not have actually been submissive, but he was nowhere as wild as Sydney was. I am starting to suspect that how it feels and how it looks must be two completely different things when it comes to my big, brown, OTTB.
To our credit, it was vastly improved over our last few showing attempts. I actually felt like I was mostly in control of our pace, and Sydney maintained forward movement, going where I asked. That's a big deal for us.
This judge was particularly kind in his evaluation and even kinder in person when he called me over for a consultation. Here's what he told me (he also wrote it in his comments).
Both canter to trot transitions received a score of 6.0, so I think we're definitely showing improvement there. Since our first showing attempt, our walk has been one of our strongest movements. This free walk wasn't so great (6.5) but the medium walk after the stretchy trot circle earned a 7.0. I've been schooling that so I am glad to see some improvement.
I walked out of the ring with a smile and a deep sigh of relief. The warm-up had been tension free, and we rode the test without the feeling of being on a rocket. If this is the track we're on, I'll take it!
It helps if I compare our scores to other riders as it gives me a sense of how I did compared to the other riders I saw. I didn't see every rider go, but I certainly didn't see anyone careening around on an out of control rocket, so maybe my ride didn't look as wild and wooly as it felt. Here's how we stacked up against the rest of the class.
Am I happy with this test? I guess so. I am definitely looking forward to our next show because I think we can get this. Ever onward!